Black and White Race Differences in Aerobic Capacity, Muscle Fiber Type, and Their Influence on Metabolic Processes

Academic Article


  • © 2015, Springer International Publishing Switzerland. Obesity is a known risk factor for cardiometabolic disease. Increasing aerobic capacity (VO2max) reduces adiposity, maintains weight, and reduces the risk of developing obesity and cardiometabolic disease. Two major determinants of aerobic capacity are the metabolic properties specific to a particular muscle fiber type and the capacity of the cardiorespiratory system to deliver nutrient-rich content to the muscle. Recent research suggests that some race/ethnic groups, particularly non-Hispanic Black subjects, are predisposed to a reduced VO2max by way of muscle fiber type. Combined with insufficient physical activity, these characteristics place non-Hispanic Black subjects at an increased risk for obesity and other adverse health outcomes when compared with other race/ethnic groups. The purpose of this review was to suggest a model for explaining how skeletal muscle fiber type may contribute to reduced aerobic capacity and obesity among non-Hispanic Black subjects. Our review indicates that metabolic properties of type II skeletal muscle (e.g. reduced oxidative capacity, capillary density) are related to various cardiometabolic diseases. Based on the review, non-Hispanic Black subjects appear to have a lower maximal aerobic capacity and a greater percentage of type II skeletal muscle fibers. Combined with reduced energy expenditure and reduced hemoglobin concentration, non-Hispanic Black subjects may be inherently predisposed to a reduced maximal aerobic capacity compared with non-Hispanic White subjects, thereby increasing the risk for obesity and related metabolic diseases.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • Sports Medicine  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Ceaser T; Hunter G
  • Start Page

  • 615
  • End Page

  • 623
  • Volume

  • 45
  • Issue

  • 5